A solidarity march to draw attention to the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) in Canada was well attended Saturday (March 6) at Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park.
Approximately 100 people dressed in symbolic red slowly walked around the perimeter of the lake to the beat of drums.
Krista Macinnis led the large group with a bullhorn, detailing the recent murder of 28-year-old Jana Williams, whose remains were found March 4 on the edge of the Red River in Winnipeg. She was six months pregnant and her body was found stuffed in a suitcase.
“135 Indigenous women’s bodies have been pulled out of the Red River,” Macinnis said. “That is just insane.”
Macinnis also pointed to the 2014 murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in plastic and a duvet cover in the Red River. Macinnis said the consistent disappearance of Indigenous people has been classified as a genocide.
“That’s hard to wrap your head around when you realize that we are living in a first-world country. It’s the 21st century. When we think of genocide, we think of the Holocaust; we don’t think of things like women going missing all across the country.”
Macinnis was asked to organize the event for MMIW Takes Back Canada, a national endeavour to once again draw attention to the continued disappearances of Indigenous women and girls.
She came into the public spotlight last fall when she spoke out in anger after her daughter, a Grade 6 student at W.A. Fraser Middle School, was given a homework assignment to list five positive things about residential schools.
An apology was issued by the Abbotsford school district, the school principal and teacher who gave the assignment.
Macinnis said there has been a “whitewashing” of Canada’s history of genocide, and an indifference in continued Indigenous oppression on the part of the government.
“Time and time again we have these issues that arise. We get an apology from our government, it gets swept under the rug and then two months later the same issue is popping up in a different part of the country.”
A solidarity gathering also occurred in Chillwack on Saturday, drawing a group of about 30 people at Five Corners, also donning red clothing as part of MMIW Takes Back Canada.
– with files by Vikki Hopes